Subject : ON NOT BEING BORN BLIND.
18 December 2006
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
While reading Hans Christian Anderson's (1848) story, The
Little Match Girl, the other night my eight-year-old daughter
asked me why no one stopped to help the little girl before she froze to
death in the snow. I found it difficult to answer her question. There
is, of course, the classic 17th-century conservative answer,
immortalized by Thomas Hobbes in the Leviathan : "The condition
of man...is a condition of war of everyone against everyone."
I chose, however, to respond to her question in another way : I
explained the indifference to the little girl's suffering as the
possible result of ideological thinking. I said that some Christians hold the extreme belief that life on this earth is not very
valuable, that entering paradise after death is the most important
thing to think about, and premature death, according to this
ideological interpretation, could actually be a blessing --like the
infallible will of God. Then I told her about late 19th-century Social
Darwinism, and the belief that only the "fittest" in the social
jungle should be allowed to survive. I then described Fascism as a 20th-century version of this ideology which desensitized people to
human suffering due to warfare on an industrial-scale. I went on to
describe other ideologies like of 19th-century Christian Democracy and early 20th-century Social Democracy, neither of which ever
addressed the root economic causes of so much suffering in the world.
All these ideologies, I said, help to explain why humans don't do what
other animal species normally do when in danger --i.e. warn and try to
protect one another.
Indeed, I continued, human beings are one of the very few species on
the planet earth which actually hunt and kill their own --not for food,
but for sport or because they simply get paid to kill other humans.
By this time my daughter's her eyes had glossed over, I had overloaded
her left brain with too much information and it was practically asleep.
She snapped out of this quasi-hypnotic state a bit agitated : I'd
rather you read me Hansel
and Gretel, she said, at least the Grimm Brothers make their
characters able to identify their enemy and to discover the reason why
the witch wanted to kill them. With this information Gretel was able to
save her brother Hansel from being eaten by the bad witch. Then she
recalled from Fables we had read together describing how even black
birds used warning systems when predators approached. Why don't human
beings protect each other, she asked?
I agreed that it would be an improvement if people actually saw who was
doing what to whom and why. Then, they could form alliances as Hansel
and Gretel had done in the Grimm Brother's story and be more able to
protect themselves. But, unfortunately, ideology often prevents people
from seeing the injustices that are really happening to them and to
people around them. It sometimes leaves them in the snow, alone, to be
quietly devoured by the elements, like the little match girl, with only
fantasies to distract them from the suffering --their own and that
which they inflict on others as a consequence of their doing nothing to
Below are 8 items CEIMSA recently received which describe some
of the causes of violence as we find ourselves drifting toward a global
conflagration in "the best of all possible worlds." Some have compared
our present era of warfare in the Middle East with the period of the Spanish
Civil War (1936-39), when some conscience-stricken individuals
responded, like Ernest
Hemingway, who went to resist Spanish fascism, along
with those Americans who joined the Abraham
Lincoln Brigade; and Europeans like George
Orwell, who went to fight against Spanish fascism with the International
Brigade. But on the whole, history shows that the western
democracies (including Leon Blum's socialist government in France)
abandoned the democratic struggle against the Falange and their German
and Italian allies, making fascist expansion later more attractive than
Spanish Civil War served as a laboratory for Fascist experimentation in military tactics and political strategy. The Fascist victory in Spain in 1939 became the prelude for
things to come in the 1940s, and at a very high price
to humanity. The articles below are clear expressions of the causes and
long-term dangers of U.S. policy in the Middle East, for those of us
who are not yet blinded by the various ideologies which are being mass
produced on a daily basis by the profit-seeking media and have
succeeded in penetrating virtually every institution with vested
interests in war productions --both material and spiritual.
Item A. is an article from Elisabeth Chamorand on
the greed that fuels the corporate take over of Iraqi oil.
Item B. is an article sent to us by
Michigan artist Joanna
Learner on the sudden
departure of Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. this week, and its
implications in Dick Cheney's "clash of civilizations" stratagem.
Item C. from the Council
for the National Interest Foundation, is an article by former
U.S. Senator James Abourezk on the role played by fear
in the U.S. Congress, and how the Israel Lobby uses it so effectively.
Item D., from Edward
Herman, is a copy of Hugh Sansom's open letter to the New
York Times, on "smearing Jimmy Carter", joined by President
Carter's former friend, the former Mayor of Atlanta Georgia, Andrew Young, whose
ideological declaration last week at the Paul Wolfowitz gathering was
timed to join the chorus of those attacking the former President for
his defense of the Palestinian nation and its right to exist. Please
Item E. is an article on the death of
investigative reporter, Gary Webb,
and its significance in the information industry.
Item F. is an article by Jerry
Levin published by Academics for Justice: "The Inside Looking
Out --'For Jews Only'."
Item G. is Mid East Dispatche from Dahr
Jamail who describes the "living hell" that the United States
has created in Iraq.
Item H. is one of a long series of
important articles from www.dissidentvoice.org sent to us by Professor Edward Herman which describes
the political manipulation of the Nazi Holocaust to serve Israeli
imperialist interests against the Palestinian nation (heading toward
extinction, as the Amerindian model is evoked inside Israel).
In addition, other news from U.S.-Israeli military
operations in the Middle East :
1) Court overturns Israel's intifada law :
2) War Crimes: How Israeli Soldiers Kill and Civilians Grow Numb :
3) Carter and the truth about Israel :
One Israeli officer says the world doesn't seem to
notice killing in small numbers. And those closest to the violence
become too scared to empathize for those who die
4) Israeli PM: Military Strike on Iran a Possibility :
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université de Grenoble-3
from Elisabeth Chamorand :
7 December 2006
Oil for Sale: Iraq
Study Group Recommends Privatization
its heavily anticipated report released on Wednesday, the Iraq Study
Group made at least four truly radical proposals.
by Antonia Juhasz
[The Iraq Study Group may not have a solution for how to end the war,
but it does have a way for its corporate friends to make money.]
The report calls for the United States to assist in privatizing Iraq's
national oil industry, opening Iraq to private foreign oil and energy
companies, providing direct technical assistance for the "drafting" of
a new national oil law for Iraq, and assuring that all of Iraq's oil
revenues accrue to the central government.
President Bush hired an employee from the U.S. consultancy firm Bearing
Point Inc. over a year ago to advise the Iraq Oil Ministry on the
drafting and passage of a new national oil law. As previously drafted,
the law opens Iraq's nationalized oil sector to private foreign
corporate investment, but stops short of full privatization. The ISG
report, however, goes further, stating that "the United States should
assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a
commercial enterprise." In addition, the current Constitution of Iraq
is ambiguous as to whether control over Iraq's oil should be shared
among its regional provinces or held under the central government. The
report specifically recommends the latter: "Oil revenues should accrue
to the central government and be shared on the basis of population." If
these proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be
privatized and opened to foreign firms, and in control of all of Iraq's
The proposals should come as little surprise given that two authors of
the report, James A. Baker III and Lawrence Eagleburger, have each
spent much of their political and corporate careers in pursuit of
greater access to Iraq's oil and wealth.
"Pragmatist" is the word most often used to describe Iraq Study Group
co-chair James A. Baker III. It is equally appropriate for Lawrence
Eagleburger. The term applies particularly well to each man's efforts
to expand U.S. economic engagement with Saddam Hussein throughout the
1980s and early 1990s. Not only did their efforts enrich Hussein and
U.S. corporations, particularly oil companies, it also served the
interests of their own private firms.
On April 21,1990, a U.S. delegation was sent to Iraq to placate Saddam
Hussein as his anti-American rhetoric and threats of a Kuwaiti invasion
intensified. James A. Baker III, then President George H.W. Bush's
secretary of state, personally sent a cable to the US embassy in
Baghdad instructing the U.S. ambassador to meet with Hussein and to
make clear that, "as concerned as we are about Iraq's chemical,
nuclear, and missile programs, we are not in any sense preparing the
way for preemptive military unilateral effort to eliminate these
Instead, Baker's interest was focused on trade, which he described as
the "central factor in the US-Iraq relationship." From 1982, when
Reagan removed Iraq from the list of countries supporting terrorism,
until August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, Baker and Eagleburger
worked with others in the Reagan and Bush administrations to
aggressively and successfully expand this trade.
The efficacy of such a move may best be described in a memo written in
1988 by the Bush transition team arguing that the United States would
have "to decide whether to treat Iraq as a distasteful dictatorship to
be shunned where possible, or to recognize Iraq's present and potential
power in the region and accord it relatively high priority. We strongly
urge the latter view." Two reasons offered were Iraq's "vast oil
reserves," which promised "a lucrative market for U.S. goods," and the
fact that U.S. oil imports from Iraq were skyrocketing. Bush and Baker
took the transition team's advice and ran with it.
In fact, from 1983 to 1989, annual trade between the United States and
Iraq grew nearly sevenfold and was expected to double in 1990, before
Iraq invaded Kuwait. In 1989, Iraq became the United States'
second-largest trading partner in the Middle East: Iraq purchased $5.2
billion in U.S. exports, while the U.S. bought $5.5 billion in Iraqi
petroleum. From 1987 to July 1990, U.S. imports of Iraqi oil increased
from 80,000 to 1.1 million barrels per day.
Eagleburger and Baker had much to do with that skyrocketing trade. In
December 1983, then undersecretary of state Eagleburger wrote the U.S.
Export-Import Bank to personally urge it to begin extending loans to
Iraq to "signal our belief in the future viability of the Iraqi economy
and secure a U.S. foothold in a potentially large export market." He
noted that Iraq "has plans well advanced for an additional 50 percent
increase in its oil exports by the end of 1984." Ultimately, billions
of loans would be made or backed by the U.S. government to the Iraqi
dictator, money used by Hussein to purchase U.S. goods.
In 1984, Baker became treasury secretary, Reagan opened full diplomatic
relations with Iraq, and Eagleburger became president of Henry
Kissinger's corporate consultancy firm, Kissinger Associates.
Kissinger Associates participated in the U.S.-Iraq Business Forum
through managing director Alan Stoga. The Forum was a trade association
representing some 60 American companies, including Bechtel, Lockheed,
Texaco, Exxon, Mobil, and Hunt Oil. The Iraqi ambassador to the United
States told a Washington, D.C., audience in 1985, "Our people in
Baghdad will give priority - when there is a competition between two
companies - to the one that is a member of the Forum." Stoga appeared
regularly at Forum events and traveled to Iraq on a Forum-sponsored
trip in 1989 during which he met directly with Hussein. Many Kissinger
clients were also members of the Forum and became recipients of
contracts with Hussein.
In 1989, Eagleburger returned to the state department now under
Secretary Baker. That same year, President Bush signed National
Security Directive 26 stating, "We should pursue, and seek to
facilitate, opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the
reconstruction of the Iraqi economy, particularly in the energy area."
The president then began discussions of a $1 billion loan guarantee for
Iraq one week before Secretary Baker met with Tariq Aziz at the state
department to seal the deal.
But once Hussein invaded Kuwait, all bets were off. Baker made a public
plea for support of military action against Hussein, arguing, "The
economic lifeline of the industrial world runs from the Gulf and we
cannot permit a dictator such as this to sit astride that economic
Baker had much to gain from increased access to Iraq's oil. According
to author Robert Bryce, Baker and his immediate family's personal
investments in the oil industry at the time of the first Gulf War
included investments in Amoco, Exxon and Texaco. The family law firm,
Baker Botts, has represented Texaco, Exxon, Halliburton and Conoco
Phillips, among other companies, in some cases since 1914 and in many
cases for decades. (Eagleburger is also connected to Halliburton,
having only recently departed the company's board of directors). Baker
is a longtime associate and now senior partner of Baker Botts, which
this year, for the second year running, was recipient of "The
International Who's Who of Business Lawyers Oil & Gas Law Firm of
the Year Award," while the Middle East remains a central focus of the
This past July, U.S. Energy Secretary Bodman announced in Baghdad that
senior U.S. oil company executives would not enter Iraq without passage
of the new law. Petroleum Economist magazine later reported that U.S.
oil companies put passage of the oil law before security concerns as
the deciding factor over their entry into Iraq. Put simply, the oil
companies are trying to get what they were denied before the war or at
anytime in modern Iraqi history: access to Iraq's oil under the ground.
They are also trying to get the best deal possible out of a war-ravaged
and occupied nation. However, waiting for the law's passage and the
need to guarantee security of U.S. firms once they get to work, may
well be a key factor driving the one proposal by the Iraq Study Group
that has received great media attention: extending the presence of U.S.
troops in Iraq at least until 2008.
As the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group are more thoroughly
considered, we should remain ever vigilant and wary of corporate war
profiteers in pragmatist's clothing.
*All quotes are referenced in my book, The Bush Agenda.
Antonia Juhasz is a visiting scholar at the
Institute for Policy Studies, author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the
World, One Economy at a Time, and a contributing author, with John
Perkins and others, of A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of
Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption. www.TheBushAgenda.net.
From Joanna Learner :
14 December 2006
Here is an interesting article that just came in
. It really tells what is going on in Iraq.
Cheney's "final solution" for Iraq (also: Muqtada madness!)
So, Dick Cheney is reportedly
pushing for the U.S. to side with Iraq's Shiites to a much greater
degree than we already have and give up on any squishy attempts to
reach out to the Sunni minority [ht: Steve Benen]. Some are calling it
the "80 percent solution" -- Shiites and Kurds are believed to make up
about 80 percent of the Iraqi population.
That probably has something to do with Cheney being summoned to meet
with the Saudis earlier this month, and perhaps with the sudden
departure of Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. this week.
For the likes of Cheney, the idea has some obvious appeal. Join the
Shiites in wiping out a good chunk of the Sunni population, and you
take the wind out of the Sunni insurgency and also lose the major
Shiites parties' justification for their militias.
The problem is that it's a policy that would veer dangerously close to
genocide, and it would likely spark the regional war that many of us
have feared for some time. The Saudis announced that they would, if
need be, intervene to defend Iraq's Shiite Sunni population. According
to reports, Saudi actors -- if not the government -- are already
supporting the Sunni insurgency with financial aid. If they intervened
in a more direct way, the Iranians would have no choice but to respond.
At the same time, as my friend Peter at The Thinker points out, the DoD
is mulling over a major offensive against the Mahdi army:
…strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to
"double down" in the country with a substantial buildup in American
troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive
against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of
the Iraqi government.
Actually, he's impeding the development of a pro-U.S. or pro-Iranian
government, not an Iraqi one. Al Sadr controls 30 seats in the Iraqi
parliament officially, and another eight or so informally. Going after
him aggressively would effectively end the occupation -- making Iraq
ungovernable for the occupation forces and the government they
Meanwhile, while we won't talk to Iran, the administration appears to
be favoring its proxies in Iraq.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) recently returned from a fact-finding trip to
Jordan, and here are some excerpts from comments he gave on the House
floor last week:
While the President is unwilling to talk to Iran, his policies in Iraq
- in reality - are allowing Iran to take over Iraq.
And, if we don't recognize and act on this soon, Iran will succeed.
This is real, not rhetorical. Actions by the President through his
appointed surrogate to run Iraq--- Paul Bremmer--- that date back to
the first days of the U.S. invasion --- have created a situation today
that makes Iraq a prime candidate for what Iran could never accomplish
on its own, militarily. That is--- taking over Iraq, its oil, its
infrastructure, even its existence as a separate nation.
Iran couldn't successfully invade Iraq, but we did, and we are playing
right into the hands of the Iranians by not acting on what Iraqis see
The media portrays an overly simplistic picture of the sectarian
struggle. We hear a lot about Shite and Sunni Iraqis, but we don't hear
about Persian Arabs ---- that is Iran. And Persian versus Arab is where
the real battle for Iraq will be won or lost.
Every time the President meets with Iranian Shia clerics, he confirms
in the Iraqi Arab minds, both Sunni and Arab [he meant Shiite], that he
is ceding control to Iranians.
It began with Bremmer's decision to give the Shia the majority on the
Governing Council. Then, his decision to disband the Iraqi Army and the
Baathist technocratic government further confirmed the Arab feeling
that the US, despite its protests to the contrary, was opening up Iraq
to an Iranian takeover.
This is not my speculation. This is what moderate Mideast leaders told
me in face-to-face meetings I attended in Amman, Jordan, recently.
Moderate leaders desperately want the American people to understand
what is really going on, because they see that as perhaps their last
hope for getting this President to get it.
To the Iraqi Arabs, there are only two explanations to account for Paul
Bremmer's actions: a blunder based on ignorance of the history of the
region; or, a deliberate decision to neutralize Iraq as a strong Arab
secular nation, thereby making it more susceptible to U.S. influence in
As moderates in the region see it, the President- and, therefore,
America, continue to openly act in ways that enable an Iranian
Just the other day, the President met with the leader of the Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Abdul Aziz Hakim, in the
White House. [snip]
Much more on that from Juan Cole, here.
Moderates in the region told me the resistance in Iraq is based on the
U.S. occupation and a power grab by Persian controlled clerics. Blaming
it all on Sunni-Shia tensions is not just incorrect, they say, it is
exactly what Iran hopes, because it leaves them out.
Failure by the President to understand it's Persian versus Arab ---
Iran versus Iraq--- has produced one disastrous decision after another.
The solution, they believe, is obvious: strategically re-deploy US
troops out of harm's way to close the Iranian border and stop the
infiltration of Iranian agents into Iraq.
Arab leaders told me they estimate that as many as 14,000 Persians have
infiltrated to run death squads who kill Arab Sunnis and incite a civil
war ---- as cover for the real war--- Iran versus Iraq.
Unless we change course, the day will come when the only banner
proclaiming Mission Accomplished will be flown by Iran. We can't let
What's important here is that much of what we hear about "sectarian
violence" is overly simplistic; there are overlapping conflicts in
Iraq, and significant tension within both the Sunni and Shiite
communities. Rifts between Shiite nationalists -- represented primarily
by Muqtada al Sadr -- and the pro-Iranian Shiites represented in
parliament by SCIRI and on the streets by its armed wing, the Badr
Brigade, led to violence in the South not long ago.
What McDermott can't say is that Iran's 'mission accomplished' banner
has been flying high for some time now, and it's unlikely they'll end
up looking stupid photographed beneath it like some Commander-in-Chiefs
I could name. It's hard to over-estimate the degree to which Bush's
"War on terror" has put Iran in the cat-bird's seat -- after all,
Iran's most significant adversaries on September 10, 2001 were A)
Saddam Hussein's Iraq, B) the U.S. and C) the Taliban in Afghanistan --
two are now gone and the third is tied up, isolated politically from
its allies and facing a potential disaster for its troops if it were to
move against Tehran.
Anyway, there's a fine-line to be navigated here. It's important to
highlight the dangers inherent in taking sides with Iraq's Shiites
against the Sunnis. At the same time, one must be careful not to play
into the hands of the 'bomb Iraq' crew by focusing too much on Tehran's
cross-border shenanigans -- talk about it, but be cautious about
portraying Iran as a direct security threat to the United States.
Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular
contributor to The Gadflyer.
2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/joshua/45471/
from Council for the National Interest Foundation :
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006
Subject: Former U.S. Senator: Support for Israel in Congress is
Based on Fear
FOR THE NATIONAL INTEREST
Former U.S. Senator: Support for Israel in Congress
is Based on Fear
by James Abourezk
I can tell you from personal experience that the support Israel has in
the Congress is based completely on political fear -- fear of defeat by
anyone who does not do what Israel wants done. I can also tell you that
very few members of Congress -- at least when I served there -- have
any affection for Israel or for its Lobby. What they have is contempt,
but it is silenced by fear of being found out exactly how they feel.
I've heard too many cloakroom conversations in which members of the
Senate will voice their bitter feelings about how they're pushed around
by the Lobby to think otherwise. In private one hears the dislike of
Israel and the tactics of the Lobby, but not one of them is willing to
risk the Lobby's animosity by making their feelings public.
Thus, I see no desire on the part of Members of Congress to further any
U.S. imperial dreams by using Israel as their pit bull. The only
exceptions to that rule are the feelings of Jewish members, whom, I
believe, are sincere in their efforts to keep U.S. money flowing to
Israel. But that minority does not a U.S. imperial policy make.
Secondly, the Lobby is quite clear in its efforts to suppress any
congressional dissent from the policy of complete support for Israel
which might hurt annual appropriations. Even one voice is attacked, as
I was, on grounds that if Congress is completely silent on the issue,
the press will have no one to quote, which effectively silences the
press as well. Any journalists or editors who step out of line are
quickly brought under control by well organized economic pressure
against the newspaper caught sinning.
I once made a trip through the Middle East, taking with me a reporter
friend who wrote for Knight-Ridder newspapers. He was writing honestly
about what he saw with respect to the Palestinians and other countries
bordering on Israel. The St. Paul Pioneer press executives received
threats from several of their large advertisers that their advertising
would be terminated if they continued publishing the journalist's
articles. It's a lesson quickly learned by those who controlled the
With respect to the positions of several administrations on the
question of Israel, there are two things that bring them into line: One
is pressure from members of Congress who bring that pressure resulting
in the demands of AIPAC, and the other is the desire on the part of the
President and his advisers to keep their respective political parties
from crumbling under that pressure. I do not recall a single instance
where any administration saw the need for Israel's military power to
advance U.S. Imperial interests. In fact, as we saw in the Gulf War,
Israel's involvement was detrimental to what Bush, Sr. wanted to
accomplish in that war. The U.S. had to suppress any Israeli assistance
so that the coalition would not be destroyed by their involvement.
So far as the argument that we need to use Israel as a base for U.S.
operations, I'm not aware of any U.S. bases there of any kind. The U.S.
has enough military bases, and fleets, in the area to be able to handle
any kind of military needs without using Israel. In fact I can't think
of an instance where the U.S. would want to involve Israel militarily
for fear of upsetting the current allies the U.S. has, i.e., Saudi
Arabia and the Emirates. The public in those countries would not allow
the monarchies to continue their alliance with the U.S. should Israel
I suppose one could argue that Bush's encouragement of Israel in the
Lebanon war this summer was the result of some imperial urge, but it
was merely an extension of the U.S. policy of helping Israel because of
the Lobby's continual pressure. In fact, I heard not one voice of
opposition to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon this summer (except Chuck
Hagel). Lebanon always has been a "throw away" country so far as the
congress is concerned, that is, what happens there has no effect on
U.S. interests. There is no Lebanon Lobby. The same was true in 1982,
when the Congress fell completely silent over the invasion that year.
I think in the heart of hearts of both members of congress and of the
administrations they would prefer not to have Israel fouling things up
for U.S. foreign policy, which is to keep oil flowing to the Western
world to prevent an economic depression. But what our policy makers do
is to juggle the Lobby's pressure on them to support Israel with
keeping the oil countries from cutting off oil to the western nations.
So far they've been able to do that. With the exception of King Feisal
and his oil embargo, there hasn't been a Saudi leader able to stand up
to U.S. policy.
So I believe that divestment, and especially cutting off U.S. aid to
Israel would immediately result in Israel's giving up the West Bank and
leaving the Gaza to the Palestinians. Such pressure would work, I
think, because the Israeli public would be able to determine what is
causing their misery and would demand that an immediate peace agreement
be made with the Palestinians. It would work because of the democracy
there, unlike sanctions against a dictatorship where the public could
do little about changing their leaders' minds. One need only look at
the objectives of the Israeli Lobby to determine how to best change
their minds. The Lobby's principal objectives are to keep money flowing
from the U.S. treasury to Israel, requiring a docile congress and a
compliant administration. As Willie Sutton once said, "That's where the
James Abourezk was a U.S. Senator, the first Arab-American to serve in
the Senate, from South Dakota from 1973 to 1979. He is the vice
chairman of the Council for the National Interest.
from Ed Herman :
Subject: Smearing Jimmy Carter
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2006
An Open Letter to the
New York Times
by Hugh Sansom
The New York Times has now joined
the slander campaign against President Jimmy Carter following the
release of his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. (The paper gets the
title wrong -- there's a colon.)
Just how ignorant does the Times think its readers are? All of the
"critics" cited -- Kenneth Stein, Alan Dershowitz, David Makovsky and
the Wiesenthal Center -- are unqualified apologists for Israel and its
The paper claims that Stein's "criticism is the latest in a growing
chorus of academics who have taken issue with the book". What chorus
can the Times have in mind if the only critics it can find just happen
to be pro-Israel anti-Arabists?
Stein might be the most moderate -- he's also the most insignificant.
One way or another, the Times cites --not one example-- of the claimed
factual errors or copying, except to convey Stein's vague (and possibly
actionable) assertions about an unnamed source.
Professor Stein, by the way, was also part of a campaign at Emory
University to stop Mary Robinson, former Irish President and UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, from speaking at Emory's 2004
commencement -- because of her criticism of Israel.
Makovsky is a long-time apologist for Israeli occupation and
settlements. He likewise refers to many errors. The Times cites none.
Did Makovsky offer none?
The Wiesenthal Center has never offered any criticism of occupation. It
does routinely charge --any-- critic of Israel with anti-Semitism.
Dershowitz is a vicious apologist not just for Israeli occupation but
for Israeli atrocities. His own book The Case for Israel really has
been shown to be riddled with errors and probably plagiarized (from
Joan Peters's debunked From Time Immemorial). Dershowitz plagiarizes
'fact' from fiction, but the Times makes no mention of this.
The Times is fond of turning to Dershowitz. It did so when Noam
Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival appeared on the best seller lists
following a mention before the UN by Hugo Chavez. Then as now,
Dershowitz exhibited no experience of or interest in either reading or
truth. Yet the Times thinks not only that he's worth citing, but worth
citing repeatedly and without qualification.
It is notable that the Times says nothing at all to suggest that these
Carter critics might have an axe to grind. But it shows no comparable
hesitation when the critic is one of US or Israeli actions. Chomsky and
others like him are routinely identified by their criticism of US and
Israeli policy. Why the discrepancy?
The Times provides yet another example of just how right Professors
Walt and Mearsheimer are.
Hugh Sansom can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
from Robert Parry :
9 December 2006
Gary Webb's Death: American Tragedy
Americans ask me what happened to the vaunted U.S. press corps over the
past three decades - in the decline from its heyday of the Watergate
scandal and the Pentagon Papers to its failure to challenge the Iraq
WMD lies or to hold George W. Bush accountable - I often recall for
them the story of Gary Webb.
by Robert Parry
Two years ago, on the night of Dec. 9, 2004, investigative reporter
Webb - his career shattered and his life in ruins - typed out four
suicide notes for his family, laid out a certificate for his cremation,
put a note on the door suggesting a call to 911, and removed his
father's handgun from a box.
The 49-year-old Webb, a divorced father of three who was living alone
in a rental house in Sacramento County, California, then raised the gun
and shot himself in the head. The first shot was not lethal, so he
fired once more.
His body was found the next day after movers who were scheduled to
clear out Webb's rental house, arrived and followed the instructions
from the note on the door.
Though a personal tragedy, the story of Gary Webb's suicide has a
larger meaning for the American people who find themselves increasingly
sheltered from the truth by government specialists at cover-ups and by
a U.S. news media that has lost its way.
Webb's death had its roots in his fateful decision eight years earlier
to write a three-part series for the San Jose Mercury News that
challenged a potent conventional wisdom shared by the elite U.S. news
organizations - that one of the most shocking scandals of the 1980s
just couldn't have been true.
Webb's "Dark Alliance" series, published in August 1996, revived the
story of how the Reagan administration in the 1980s had tolerated and
protected cocaine smuggling by its client army of Nicaraguan rebels
known as the contras.
Though substantial evidence of these crimes had surfaced in the
mid-1980s (initially in an article that Brian Barger and I wrote for
the Associated Press in December 1985 and later at hearings conducted
by Sen. John Kerry), the major news outlets had bent to pressure from
the Reagan administration and refused to take the disclosures
Reflecting the dominant attitude toward Kerry and his work on the
contra-cocaine scandal, Newsweek even dubbed the Massachusetts senator
a "randy conspiracy buff." [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's
"Kerry's Contra-Cocaine Chapter."]
Thus, the ugly reality of the contra-cocaine scandal was left in that
netherworld of uncertainty, largely proven with documents and testimony
but never accepted by Official Washington, including its premier news
organizations, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.
But Webb's series thrust the scandal back into prominence by connecting
the contra-cocaine trafficking to the crack epidemic that had ravaged
Los Angeles and other American cities in the 1980s. For that reason,
African-American communities were up in arms as were their elected
So, the "Dark Alliance" series offered a unique opportunity for the
major news outlets to finally give the contra-cocaine scandal the
attention it deserved.
But that would have required some painful self-criticism among
Washington journalists whose careers had advanced in part because they
had avoided retaliation from aggressive Reagan supporters who had made
an art of punishing out-of-step reporters for pursuing controversies
like the contra-cocaine scandal.
Also, by the mid-1990s, a powerful right-wing news media had taken
shape and was in no mood to accept the notion that President Ronald
Reagan's beloved contras were little more than common criminals. That
recognition would have cast a shadow over the Reagan Legacy, which the
Right was busy elevating into mythic status.
There was the turf issue, too. Since Webb's stories coincided with the
emergence of the Internet as an alternate source for news and the San
Jose Mercury News was at the center of Silicon Valley, the big
newspapers saw a threat to their historic dominance as the nation's
gatekeepers for what information should be taken seriously.
Plus, the major media's focus in the mid-1990s was on scandals swirling
around Bill Clinton, such as some firings at the White House Travel
Office and convoluted questions about his old Whitewater real-estate
In other words, there was little appetite to revisit scandals from the
Reagan years and there was strong motive to disparage what Webb had
It fell to Rev. Sun Myung Moon's right-wing Washington Times to begin
the counterattack. The Washington Times turned to some ex-CIA
officials, who had participated in the contra war, to refute the drug
But - in a pattern that would repeat itself over the next decade - the
Washington Post and other mainstream newspapers quickly lined up behind
the right-wing press. On Oct. 4, 1996, the Washington Post published a
front-page article knocking down Webb's story.
The Post's approach was twofold: first, it presented the contra-cocaine
allegations as old news - "even CIA personnel testified to Congress
they knew that those covert operations involved drug traffickers," the
Post reported - and second, the Post minimized the importance of the
one contra smuggling channel that Webb had highlighted - that it had
not "played a major role in the emergence of crack."
A Post side-bar story dismissed African-Americans as prone to
Soon, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times joined in the piling
on against Gary Webb. The big newspapers made much of the CIA's
internal reviews in 1987 and 1988 that supposedly cleared the spy
agency of a role in contra-cocaine smuggling.
But the CIA's decade-old cover-up began to weaken on Oct. 24, 1996,
when CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz conceded before the Senate
Intelligence Committee that the first CIA probe had lasted only 12
days, the second only three days. He promised a more thorough review.
Nevertheless, Webb was becoming the target of outright media ridicule.
Influential Post media critic Howard Kurtz mocked Webb for saying in a
book proposal that he would explore the possibility that the contra war
was primarily a business to its participants.
"Oliver Stone, check your voice mail," Kurtz chortled. [Washington
Post, Oct. 28, 1996]
Webb's suspicion was not unfounded, however. Indeed, White House aide
Oliver North's emissary Rob Owen had made the same point a decade
earlier, in a March 17, 1986, message about the contra leadership.
"Few of the so-called leaders of the movement … really care about the
boys in the field," Owen wrote. "THIS WAR HAS BECOME A BUSINESS TO MANY
OF THEM." [Capitalization in the original.]
Kurtz and other big-name journalists may have been ignorant of key
facts about the contra war, but that didn't stop them from pillorying
Gary Webb. The ridicule also had a predictable effect on the executives
of the Mercury News. By early 1997, executive editor Jerry Ceppos was
On May 11, 1997, Ceppos published a front-page column saying the series
"fell short of my standards." He criticized the stories because they
"strongly implied CIA knowledge" of contra connections to U.S. drug
dealers who were manufacturing crack-cocaine. "We did not have proof
that top CIA officials knew of the relationship," Ceppos wrote.
The big newspapers celebrated Ceppos's retreat as vindication of their
own dismissal of the contra-cocaine stories. Ceppos next pulled the
plug on the Mercury News' continuing contra-cocaine investigation and
reassigned Webb to a small office in Cupertino, California, far from
his family. Webb resigned the paper in disgrace.
For undercutting Webb and other reporters working on the contra
investigation, Ceppos was lauded by the American Journalism Review and
was given the 1997 national "Ethics in Journalism Award" by the Society
of Professional Journalists. While Ceppos won raves, Webb watched his
career collapse and his marriage break up.
The CIA Probe
Still, Gary Webb had set in motion internal government investigations
that would bring to the surface long-hidden facts about how the Reagan
administration had conducted the contra war.
The CIA's defensive line against the contra-cocaine allegations began
to break when the spy agency published Volume One of Inspector General
Hitz's findings on Jan. 29, 1998.
Despite a largely exculpatory press release, Hitz's Volume One admitted
that not only were many of Webb's allegations true but that he actually
understated the seriousness of the contra-drug crimes and the CIA's
Hitz acknowledged that cocaine smugglers played a significant early
role in the Nicaraguan contra movement and that the CIA intervened to
block an image-threatening 1984 federal investigation into a San
Francisco-based drug ring with suspected ties to the contras, the
so-called "Frogman Case."
On May 7, 1998, another disclosure from the government investigation
shook the CIA's weakening defenses.
Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, introduced into the
Congressional Record a Feb. 11, 1982, letter of understanding between
the CIA and the Justice Department.
The letter, which had been sought by CIA Director William Casey, freed
the CIA from legal requirements that it must report drug smuggling by
CIA assets, a provision that covered both the Nicaraguan contras and
Afghan rebels who were fighting a Soviet-supported regime in
Afghanistan and were implicated in heroin trafficking.
The next breach in the defensive wall was a report by the Justice
Department's inspector general Michael Bromwich. Given the hostile
climate surrounding Webb's series, Bromwich's report opened with
criticism of Webb. But, like the CIA's Volume One, the contents
revealed new details about government wrongdoing.
According to evidence cited by Bromwich, the Reagan administration knew
almost from the outset of the contra war that cocaine traffickers
permeated the paramilitary operation. The administration also did next
to nothing to expose or stop the crimes.
Bromwich's report revealed example after example of leads not followed,
corroborated witnesses disparaged, official law-enforcement
investigations sabotaged, and even the CIA facilitating the work of
The report showed that the contras and their supporters ran several
parallel drug-smuggling operations, not just the one at the center of
The report also found that the CIA shared little of its information
about contra drugs with law-enforcement agencies and on three occasions
disrupted cocaine-trafficking investigations that threatened the
Though depicting a more widespread contra-drug operation than Webb had
understood, the Justice report also provided some important
corroboration about a Nicaraguan drug smuggler, Norwin Meneses, who was
a key figure in Webb's series.
Bromwich cited U.S. government informants who supplied detailed
information about Meneses's operation and his financial assistance to
For instance, Renato Pena, a money-and-drug courier for Meneses, said
that in the early 1980s, the CIA allowed the contras to fly drugs into
the United States, sell them and keep the proceeds.
Pena, who was the northern California representative for the CIA-backed
FDN contra army, said the drug trafficking was forced on the contras by
the inadequate levels of U.S. government assistance.
The Justice report also disclosed repeated examples of the CIA and U.S.
embassies in Central America discouraging Drug Enforcement
Administration investigations, including one into contra-cocaine
shipments moving through the international airport in El Salvador.
Inspector General Bromwich said secrecy trumped all. "We have no doubt
that the CIA and the U.S. Embassy were not anxious for the DEA to
pursue its investigation at the airport," he wrote.
Despite the remarkable admissions in the body of these reports, the big
newspapers showed no inclination to read beyond the press releases and
Cocaine Crimes & Monica
By fall 1998, Official Washington was obsessed with the Monica Lewinsky
sex scandal, which made it easier to ignore even more stunning
contra-cocaine disclosures in the CIA's Volume Two.
In Volume Two, published Oct. 8, 1998, CIA Inspector General Hitz
identified more than 50 contras and contra-related entities implicated
in the drug trade. He also detailed how the Reagan administration had
protected these drug operations and frustrated federal investigations
throughout the 1980s.
According to Volume Two, the CIA knew the criminal nature of its contra
clients from the start of the war against Nicaragua's leftist
The earliest contra force, called ADREN or the 15th of September
Legion, had chosen "to stoop to criminal activities in order to feed
and clothe their cadre," according to a June 1981 draft CIA field
ADREN also employed terrorist methods, including the bombing of
Nicaraguan civilian planes and hijackings, to disrupt the Sandinista
government, the CIA knew. Cocaine smuggling was also in the picture.
According to a September 1981 cable to CIA headquarters, two ADREN
members made the first delivery of drugs to Miami in July 1981, the CIA
ADREN's leaders included Enrique Bermudez and other early contras who
would later direct the major contra army, the CIA-organized FDN.
Throughout the war, Bermudez remained the top contra military
The CIA later corroborated the allegations about ADREN's cocaine
trafficking, but insisted that Bermudez had opposed the drug shipments
to the United States which went ahead nonetheless.
The truth about Bermudez's supposed objections to drug trafficking,
however, was less clear. According to Volume One, Bermudez enlisted
Norwin Meneses, a large-scale Nicaraguan cocaine smuggler, to raise
money and buy supplies for the contras.
Volume One had quoted a Meneses associate, another Nicaraguan
trafficker named Danilo Blandon, who told Hitz's investigators that he
and Meneses flew to Honduras to meet with Bermudez in 1982.
At the time, Meneses's criminal activities were well known in the
Nicaraguan exile community. But the FDN commander told the cocaine
smugglers that "the ends justify the means" in raising money for the
After the Bermudez meeting, contra soldiers helped Meneses and Blandon
get past Honduran police who briefly arrested them on drug-trafficking
suspicions. After their release, Blandon and Meneses traveled on to
Bolivia to complete a cocaine transaction.
There were other indications of Bermudez's drug-smuggling tolerance. In
February 1988, another Nicaraguan exile linked to the drug trade
accused Bermudez of narcotics trafficking, according to Hitz's report.
After the contra war ended, Bermudez returned to Managua, where he was
shot to death on Feb. 16, 1991. The murder has never been solved.
CIA Drug Asset
Along the Southern Front, in Costa Rica, the drug evidence centered on
the forces of Eden Pastora, another leading contra commander. But Hitz
discovered that the U.S. government may have contributed to the
Hitz revealed that the CIA put an admitted drug operative - known by
his CIA pseudonym "Ivan Gomez" - in a supervisory position over
Pastora. Hitz reported that the CIA discovered Gomez's drug history in
1987 when Gomez failed a security review on drug-trafficking questions.
In internal CIA interviews, Gomez admitted that in March or April 1982,
he helped family members who were engaged in drug trafficking and money
laundering. In one case, Gomez said he assisted his brother and
brother-in-law in transporting cash from New York City to Miami. He
admitted that he "knew this act was illegal."
Later, Gomez expanded on his admission, describing how his family
members had fallen $2 million into debt and had gone to Miami to run a
money-laundering center for drug traffickers. Gomez said "his brother
had many visitors whom [Gomez] assumed to be in the drug trafficking
Gomez's brother was arrested on drug charges in June 1982. Three months
later, in September 1982, Gomez started his CIA assignment in Costa
Rica. Years later, convicted drug trafficker Carlos Cabezas charged
that in the early 1980s, Ivan Gomez was the CIA agent in Costa Rica who
was overseeing drug-money donations to the contras.
Gomez "was to make sure the money was given to the right people [the
contras] and nobody was taking ... profit they weren't supposed to,"
Cabezas stated publicly.
But the CIA sought to discredit Cabezas at the time because he had
trouble identifying Gomez's picture and put Gomez at one meeting in
early 1982 before Gomez started his CIA assignment.
While the CIA was able to fend off Cabezas's allegations by pointing to
these discrepancies, Hitz's report revealed that the CIA was
nevertheless aware of Gomez's direct role in drug-money laundering, a
fact the agency hid from Sen. Kerry's investigation in 1987.
The Bolivian Connection
There also was more about Gomez. In November 1985, the FBI learned from
an informant that Gomez's two brothers had been large-scale cocaine
importers, with one brother arranging shipments from Bolivia's infamous
drug kingpin Roberto Suarez.
Suarez already was known as a financier of right-wing causes. In 1980,
with the support of Argentine's hard-line anti-communist military
regime, Suarez bankrolled a coup in Bolivia that ousted the elected
The violent putsch became known as the Cocaine Coup because it made
Bolivia the region's first narco-state. Bolivia's government-protected
cocaine shipments helped transform the Medellin cartel from a
struggling local operation into a giant corporate-style business for
delivering cocaine to the U.S. market.
Some of those profits allegedly found their way into contra coffers.
Flush with cash in the early 1980s, Suarez invested more than $30
million in various right-wing paramilitary operations, including the
contra forces in Central America, according to U.S. Senate testimony by
an Argentine intelligence officer, Leonardo Sanchez-Reisse.
In 1987, Sanchez-Reisse said the Suarez drug money was laundered
through front companies in Miami before going to Central America.
There, other Argentine intelligence officers - veterans of the Bolivian
coup - trained the contras.
CIA Inspector General Hitz added another piece to the mystery of the
Bolivian-contra connection. One contra fund-raiser, Jose Orlando
Bolanos, boasted that the Argentine government was supporting his
anti-Sandinista activities, according to a May 1982 cable to CIA
Bolanos made the statement during a meeting with undercover Drug
Enforcement Administration agents in Florida. He even offered to
introduce them to his Bolivian cocaine supplier.
Despite all this suspicious drug activity around Ivan Gomez and the
contras, the CIA insisted that it did not unmask Gomez until 1987, when
he failed a security check and confessed his role in his family's drug
The CIA official who interviewed Gomez concluded that "Gomez directly
participated in illegal drug transactions, concealed participation in
illegal drug transactions, and concealed information about involvement
in illegal drug activity," Hitz wrote.
But senior CIA officials still protected Gomez. They refused to refer
the Gomez case to the Justice Department, citing the 1982 DOJ-CIA
agreement that spared the CIA from a legal obligation to report
narcotics crimes by non-employees.
Instead, the CIA eased Gomez, an independent contractor, out of the
agency in February 1988, without alerting law enforcement or the
congressional oversight committees.
When questioned about the case nearly a decade later, one senior CIA
official who had supported the gentle treatment of Gomez had second
thoughts. "It is a striking commentary on me and everyone that this
guy's involvement in narcotics didn't weigh more heavily on me or the
system," the official acknowledged.
The White House Trail
A Medellin drug connection arose in another section of Hitz's report,
when he revealed evidence suggesting that some contra trafficking may
have been sanctioned by Reagan's National Security Council.
The protagonist for this part of the contra-cocaine mystery was Moises
Nunez, a Cuban-American who worked for North's NSC operation and for
two drug-connected seafood importers, Ocean Hunter in Miami and
Frigorificos de Puntarenas in Costa Rica.
Frigorificos de Puntarenas was created in the early 1980s as a cover
for drug-money laundering, according to sworn testimony by two of the
firm's principals - Carlos Soto and Medellin cartel accountant Ramon
Milian Rodriguez. Drug allegations were swirling around Moises Nunez by
the mid-1980s. At the AP, his operation was one of the targets of our
Finally reacting to these suspicions, the CIA questioned Nunez on March
25, 1987, about his alleged cocaine trafficking. He responded by
pointing the finger at his NSC superiors.
"Nunez revealed that since 1985, he had engaged in a clandestine
relationship with the National Security Council," Hitz reported.
"Nunez refused to elaborate on the nature of these actions, but
indicated it was difficult to answer questions relating to his
involvement in narcotics trafficking because of the specific tasks he
had performed at the direction of the NSC. Nunez refused to identify
the NSC officials with whom he had been involved."
After this first round of questioning, CIA headquarters authorized an
additional session, but then senior CIA officials reversed the
decision. There would be no further efforts at "debriefing Nunez."
Hitz noted that "the cable [from headquarters] offered no explanation
for the decision" to stop the Nunez interrogation.
But the CIA's Central American task force chief Alan Fiers said the
Nunez-NSC drug lead was not pursued "because of the NSC connection and
the possibility that this could be somehow connected to the Private
Benefactor program [the contra money handled by North]. A decision was
made not to pursue this matter."
Joseph Fernandez, who had been the CIA's station chief in Costa Rica,
later confirmed to congressional Iran-Contra investigators that Nunez
"was involved in a very sensitive operation" for North's "Enterprise."
The exact nature of that NSC-authorized activity has never been
At the time of the Nunez-NSC drug admissions and his truncated
interrogation, the CIA's acting director was Robert M. Gates, who was
confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 6, 2006, to be President George W.
Bush's new Secretary of Defense.
The CIA also worked directly with other drug-connected Cuban-Americans
on the contra project, Hitz found.
One of Nunez's Cuban-American associates, Felipe Vidal, had a criminal
record as a narcotics trafficker in the 1970s. But the CIA still hired
him to serve as a logistics coordinator for the contras, Hitz reported.
The CIA also learned that Vidal's drug connections were not only in the
A December 1984 cable to CIA headquarters revealed Vidal's ties to Rene
Corvo, another Cuban-American suspected of drug trafficking. Corvo was
working with anti-communist Cuban, Frank Castro, who was viewed as a
Medellin cartel representative within the contra movement.
There were other narcotics links to Vidal. In January 1986, the DEA in
Miami seized 414 pounds of cocaine concealed in a shipment of yucca
that was going from a contra operative in Costa Rica to Ocean Hunter,
the company where Vidal worked.
Despite the evidence, Vidal remained a CIA employee as he collaborated
with Frank Castro's assistant, Rene Corvo, in raising money for the
contras, according to a CIA memo in June 1986.
By fall 1986, Sen. Kerry had heard enough rumors about Vidal to demand
information about him as part of a congressional inquiry into contra
drugs. But the CIA withheld the derogatory information. On Oct. 15,
1986, Kerry received a briefing from Alan Fiers, who didn't mention
Vidal's drug arrests and conviction in the 1970s.
But Vidal was not yet in the clear. In 1987, the U.S. attorney in Miami
began investigating Vidal, Ocean Hunter and other contra-connected
This prosecutorial attention worried the CIA. The CIA's Latin American
division felt it was time for a security review of Vidal. But on Aug.
5, 1987, the CIA's security office blocked the review for fear that the
Vidal drug information "could be exposed during any future litigation."
As expected, the U.S. Attorney did request documents about
"contra-related activities" by Vidal, Ocean Hunter and 16 other
entities. The CIA advised the prosecutor that "no information had been
found regarding Ocean Hunter," a statement that was clearly false.
The CIA continued Vidal's employment as an adviser to the contra
movement until 1990, virtually the end of the contra war.
Hitz revealed that drugs also tainted the highest levels of the
Honduran-based FDN, the largest contra army.
Hitz found that Juan Rivas, a contra commander who rose to be chief of
staff, admitted that he had been a cocaine trafficker in Colombia
before the war. The CIA asked Rivas, known as El Quiche, about his
background after the DEA began suspecting that Rivas might be an
escaped convict from a Colombian prison.
In interviews with CIA officers, Rivas acknowledged that he had been
arrested and convicted of packaging and transporting cocaine for the
drug trade in Barranquilla, Colombia. After several months in prison,
Rivas said, he escaped and moved to Central America where he joined the
Defending Rivas, CIA officials insisted that there was no evidence that
Rivas engaged in trafficking while with the contras. But one CIA cable
noted that he lived an expensive lifestyle, even keeping a $100,000
thoroughbred horse at the contra camp.
Contra military commander Bermudez later attributed Rivas's wealth to
his ex-girlfriend's rich family. But a CIA cable in March 1989 added
that "some in the FDN may have suspected at the time that the
father-in-law was engaged in drug trafficking."
Still, the CIA moved quickly to protect Rivas from exposure and
possible extradition to Colombia. In February 1989, CIA headquarters
asked that DEA take no action "in view of the serious political damage
to the U.S. Government that could occur should the information about
Rivas become public."
Rivas was eased out of the contra leadership with an explanation of
poor health. With U.S. government help, he was allowed to resettle in
Miami. Colombia was not informed about his fugitive status.
Another senior FDN official implicated in the drug trade was its chief
spokesman in Honduras, Arnoldo Jose "Frank" Arana.
The drug allegations against Arana dated back to 1983 when a federal
narcotics task force put him under criminal investigation because of
plans "to smuggle 100 kilograms of cocaine into the United States from
On Jan. 23, 1986, the FBI reported that Arana and his brothers were
involved in a drug-smuggling enterprise, although Arana was not
Arana sought to clear up another set of drug suspicions in 1989 by
visiting the DEA in Honduras with a business associate, Jose Perez.
Arana's association with Perez, however, only raised new alarms.
If "Arana is mixed up with the Perez brothers, he is probably dirty,"
the DEA responded.
Through their ownership of an air services company called SETCO, the
Perez brothers were associated with Juan Matta Ballesteros, a major
cocaine kingpin connected to the murder of a DEA agent, according to
reports by the DEA and U.S. Customs.
Hitz reported that someone at the CIA scribbled a note on the DEA cable
about Arana stating: "Arnold Arana ... still active and working, we
[CIA] may have a problem."
Despite its drug ties to Matta Ballesteros, SETCO emerged as the
principal company for ferrying supplies to the contras in Honduras.
During congressional Iran-Contra hearings, FDN political leader Adolfo
Calero testified that SETCO was paid from bank accounts controlled by
Oliver North. SETCO also received $185,924 from the State Department
for ferrying supplies to the contras in 1986.
Hitz found other air transport companies used by the contras implicated
in the cocaine trade. Even FDN leaders suspected that they were
shipping supplies to Central America aboard planes that might be
returning with drugs.
Mario Calero, Adolfo Calero's brother and the chief of contra
logistics, grew so uneasy about one air-freight company that he
notified U.S. law enforcement that the FDN only chartered the planes
for the flights south, not the return flights north.
Hitz found that some drug pilots simply rotated from one sector of the
contra operation to another. Donaldo Frixone, who had a drug record in
the Dominican Republic, was hired by the CIA to fly contra missions
In September 1986, however, Frixone was implicated in smuggling 19,000
pounds of marijuana into the United States. In late 1986 or early 1987,
he went to work for vortex, another U.S.-paid contra supply company
linked to the drug trade.
By the time that Hitz's Volume Two was published in fall 1998, the
CIA's defense against Webb's series had shrunk to a fig leaf: that the
CIA did not conspire with the contras to raise money through cocaine
But Hitz made clear that the contra war took precedence over law
enforcement and that the CIA withheld evidence of contra crimes from
the Justice Department, the Congress and even the CIA's own analytical
Besides tracing the evidence of contra-drug trafficking through the
decade-long contra war, the inspector general interviewed senior CIA
officers who acknowledged that they were aware of the contra-drug
problem but didn't want its exposure to undermine the struggle to
overthrow Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government.
According to Hitz, the CIA had "one overriding priority: to oust the
Sandinista government. … [CIA officers] were determined that the
various difficulties they encountered not be allowed to prevent
effective implementation of the contra program."
One CIA field officer explained, "The focus was to get the job done,
get the support and win the war."
Hitz also recounted complaints from CIA analysts that CIA operations
officers handling the contras hid evidence of contra-drug trafficking
even from the CIA's analysts.
Because of the withheld evidence, the CIA analysts incorrectly
concluded in the mid-1980s that "only a handful of contras might have
been involved in drug trafficking." That false assessment was passed on
to Congress and the major news organizations - serving as an important
basis for denouncing Gary Webb and his series in 1996.
Nevertheless, although Hitz's report was an extraordinary admission of
institutional guilt by the CIA, it passed almost unnoticed by the big
newspapers. [For more details, see Robert Parry's Lost History:
Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth']
On Oct. 10, 1998, two days after Hitz's report was posted at the CIA's
Internet site, the New York Times published a brief article that
continued to deride Webb but acknowledged the contra-drug problem may
have been worse than earlier understood.
Several weeks later, the Washington Post weighed in with a similarly
superficial article. The Los Angeles Times never published a story on
the release of the CIA's Volume Two.
To this day, no editor or reporter who missed the contra-cocaine story
has been punished for his or her negligence. Indeed, some of them are
now top executives at their news organizations. On the other hand, Gary
Webb's career never recovered.
Unable to find decent-paying work in a profession where his past awards
included a Pulitzer Prize, Webb grew despondent. His marriage broke up.
By December 2004, he
found himself forced to move out of his rented house near Sacramento.
Instead, Webb decided to end his life.
One Last Chance
Webb's suicide offered the New York Times, the Washington Post and the
Los Angeles Times one more opportunity to set matters right, to revisit
the CIA's admissions in 1998 and to exact some accountability on the
Reagan-era officials implicated in protecting the contra crimes.
But all that followed Gary Webb's death was more trashing of Gary Webb.
The Los Angeles Times ran a graceless obituary that made no mention of
the admissions in the CIA's Volume Two and treated Webb like a low-life
criminal, rather than a journalist who took on a tough story and paid a
The Times obituary was republished in other newspapers, including the
Washington Post. No one reading this obit would understand the profound
debt that American history owed to Gary Webb, who deserved the lion's
share of the credit for forcing the CIA to make its extraordinary
Yet, the big media's consistent mishandling of the contra-cocaine
scandal in the 1980s and 1990s carried another warning that the nation
missed: that the U.S. press corps was no longer capable of reporting
complex crimes of state.
That unaddressed danger returned with disastrous results in late 2002
and early 2003 when George W. Bush sold false stories about Iraq's
alleged weapons of mass destruction while the major newspapers acted as
cheerleaders and accomplices.
At the time of Webb's death on Dec. 9, 2004, the full scope of the Iraq
disaster was still not evident, nor was the major press corps ready to
acknowledge that its cowardice in the 1980s and its fecklessness in the
1990s were the direct antecedents to its complicity in the illegal
invasion of Iraq.
Gary Webb had been a kind of canary in the mine shaft. His career
destruction in the 1990s and his desperate act of suicide in 2004 were
warnings about grave dangers that, if left ignored, would wreak even
worse havoc on the United States and the world.
But - on this second anniversary of Webb's death - it should be
remembered that his great gift to American history was that he, along
with angry African-American citizens, forced the government to admit
some of the worst crimes ever condoned by any White House: the
protection of drug smuggling into the United States as part of a covert
war against a country, Nicaragua, that represented no real threat to
It is way past time for that reality - and that gift - to be
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra
stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest
book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate
to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available
at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the
Press & "Project Truth."
from Ed Herman
Subject: Academics for Justice, on The Inside Looking Out --"For Jews
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006
The Inside Looking Out: Report-76 --"For Jews Only"--
by Jerry Levin
follows is the seventy-sixth in a series of micro-reports,
commentaries, and or analyses that I am sending routinely from the
Occupied Territories and other areas in the Middle East. If the
information or ideas seem helpful, please feel free to forward them to
others. It would be a privilege to add their names to this mailing
list, if so requested. I can be reached at: email@example.com. As
always I will be grateful for any feedback. Also my more recent
experiences in the Middle East have been collected in a new book, "West
Bank Diary." If you are interested in obtaining a copy, please contact
Hope Publishing House, Pasadena, CA at 1-800-326-2671 or via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Hebron, West Bank, Palestine, December 9, 2006). Sooner or later it
was bound to happen; and the other day it did. It occurred when I was
attempting to lead a small group of international fact finders down a
mile stretch of street along which the four tiny Israeli arch orthodox
arch nationalist Israeli squatter-settlements in Hebron are situated.
The name of the street is Shuhada Street, and it runs along the western
perimeter of the Old City. By the late 1990s all four of the small
neo-Jewish neighborhoods had been staked out, firmly established, and
built up. Then protected by the Israeli army and police they continued
to expand by stealth and force into neighboring Palestinian areas
overrunning homes and shops. This despite the fact that Oslo I and II
"peace process" bargaining was supposed to have put
a lock on squatter-settlement expansion everywhere in the Occupied
To celebrate and commemorate the so-called Oslo "peace process" in
Hebron, USAID, the United States Agency for International Development,
poured millions of dollars into improving Shuhada Street for the use of
everyone living or visiting there: Palestinians, Israelis, and
Internationals. But CPTers who have been in Hebron since the mid 1990s
will tell you that even after the street was rebuilt, squatter-settlers
with the connivance of the Israeli military and police have been giving
the bird to USAID and its naïve intentions by trying to make
Shuhada Street Arab and interntionala free…and still are. So, as I was
saying, sooner or later it was bound to happen; and just the other day
a dreary decade after the big US AID fix-up project, an Israeli sentry,
like a puppet on a string relayed telephoned orders from a high ranking
army commander that my little group of fact finders had to leave the
street because it is "for Jews only."
Of course, that is not strictly true, the handful of Palestinians
living there, who have not succumbed to the violent pressure to pack up
and leave that is constantly being exerted by squatter-settlers as well
as their Jewish supporters from out of town, are allowed to stay on.
But they must show special identification cards to get into and out of
the zone. But no other Palestinians, including relatives, are allowed
in; and, of course, while the squatter-settlers are allowed to speed
menacingly along the street in their cars, often scattering
Palestinians and internationals in their wake, the Palestinians are
obliged to carry every thing tey need, all the necessities of life, in
Meanwhile at the end of Shuhada Street where the Ibrahimi Mosque (the
site of the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives) are
located, the Israeli army pressured by the squatter-settlers and their
supporters outside the city have been successful in breaching
agreements reached years ago as to how many days a year the mosque and
the special security zone in which it sits are to be "for Jews only."
The mosque and the area are supposed to be closed to Muslims
approximately thirty days a year. The understanding was reached in
order to accommodate the large number of ecstatic Jewish visitors that
pour into the area on the most significant Jewish religious and
But over the years the number of "for Jews only" days at the mosque has
increased fifty percent, up to approximately forty-five days. Nidal
Tamimi, secretary to the Mayor of Hebron, complains that the Israeli
military doesn't just close the mosque and the area to Muslims; they
also give the visiting Jewish multitudes free run of the mosque. Loud
triumphant singing, clapping, and dancing can be heard coming from
inside the normally solemn and prayerfully reverent structure.
Meanwhile the Israeli military is allowing Jewish wedding celebrations
and other kinds of loud partying to take place in the large garden and
open space situated alongside the mosque. Particularly obnoxious to
Muslims is the serving of alcohol-based drinks in such a sacred
precinct. Moreover, often as the partying progresses, the drinking
contributes to an inevitable rising of the noise level. The lavish
sound-amplified catered affairs last well into the night disturbing
Muslims families living close by. But there is no authority to which
they can turn for help when their peace is thus disturbed.
Squatter-settler children are being raised on the principal that
Shuhada Street should be "for Jews only;" and their elders continue to
encourage them to do something about it, namely throw rocks – not just
stones – at Palestinians and internationals trying to make their way
along it. This continues to be a terrible problem for Palestinian
boys and girls who must make their way from the Old City or other parts
of Hebron into Shuhada Street and then cross it in order to get to
school. The problem is especially acute on Saturday, the Jewish
Sabbath. Packs of squatter-settler boys on their way to and from
religious services at the synagogue that was carved out of the Ibrahimi
Mosque in the mid 1990s often gang up on defenseless Palestinian kids
usually much younger than themselves. They not only stone the children
but often kick and push them down and about as well.
In fact, on Saturday, "Shabbat Shalom," the ancient Hebrew Sabbath
salutation of faith and peace that one hears constantly being uttered
along Shuhada Street is the opposite of reassuring to its defenseless
Palestinian residents and those trying to help them. On that day the
squatter-settlers exponentially augmented by throngs of visiting often
violently militant co-religionists ratchet up their campaigns to
emphasize the "for Jews only" character of the neighborhood they would
like to impose. Indeed it was a foreign co-religionist not a
squatter-settler who recently seriously injured an international human
rights activist on Shuhada Street by hitting her cheek with an empty
bottle. It was clear something was up when the visitors started
shouting loudly at the internationals. "Do you think Jesus was gay?"
and other such taunts. Then some of the men began spitting and kicking
the internationals. The sneak attack quickly followed. The
international, a teenage girl, was struck hard. Her cheekbone was
shattered and required plastic surgery.
Throughout the ordeal the Israeli military and police were ineffectual.
After the girl was hurt, the attackers were allowed to stay close by
cheering and clapping while attempts were made to attend to the girl's
bloody wound. Others were allowed to stand close enough to her, as she
lay prone in the street, so that pictures could be
taken of them grinning and giving a gleeful "thumbs up." Although
settler medics refused to give her direct medical attention, an Israeli
army medic did. After considerable delay she was taken to a hospital in
Jerusalem. Neither the Israeli military nor police interfered with the
foreigner responsible for the injury.
In fairness to other Jews present, when a CPTer asked one of the
soldiers why the settlers and visitors cheered, he responded somewhat
shaken that it was because "someone had been hurt." Then he added
disgustedly, "They are sick." Also a Jewish onlooker approached the
group of internationals huddled around the injured woman and said,
"Excuse me. I am sorry. This shouldn't have happened."
So much for Shabbat Shalom in Hebron. In fact, one friendly soldier
recently advised a CPT colleague to stop wishing settlers passing by a
heartfelt and respectful, "Shabbat Shalom." "You know," he said quite
sincerely, "you shouldn't say `Shabbat Shalom' to these people. It only
makes them angry."
To receive CPT Hebron's weekly reports, news alerts and other messages
concerning its violence reduction activities, send your request to be
added to its E-mail list to email@example.com. And to discover
more about Christian Peacemaker Teams, please visit the website at: www.cpt.org.
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Personal website: www.monabaker.com
Resources for Translation Studies:
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For other ways to help, see http://BoycottIsraeliGoods.org
from Dahr Jamail :
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006
Subject: MidEast Dispatches: "Today Is Better than Tomorrow"
Today Is Better than
("Not only do I know how important it is to prevail, I believe we will
prevail..."), has called for three other reviews of Iraq policy <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/08/AR2006120801823_pf.html>(by
by Dahr Jamail
the Pentagon, National Security Council, and White House) in an attempt
to flood Washington <http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=145043>with
recommendations, and is probably on the verge of "surging"
15,000-20,000 more U.S. troops into Baghdad.
All sides in this strange struggle in Washington would add up to so
much political low comedy if the consequences in Iraq and the Middle
East, the oil heartlands of our increasingly energy-hungry planet,
weren't so horrific. As Andrew Bacevich, historian, former military
man, and author of /The New American Militarism/, wrote recently in the
Boston Globe <http://www.commondreams.org/views06/1204-25.htm>,
Iraq's many contradictions "render laughably inadequate the proposals
currently on offer to save Iraq and salvage American honor. Dispatch a
few thousand additional US troops into Baghdad? Take another stab at
creating a viable Iraqi army? Lean on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to
make ‘hard decisions?' One might as well spit on a bonfire."
Consider the strangeness of it all from the Washington perspective. The
Iraq Study Group essentially wants to infiltrate the already largely
sectarian army <http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/world/16150223.htm>the
Bush administration has set up in Iraq, an army incapable of
handling its own logistics or, in many cases, planning its own
missions, with 10,000-20,000 American advisors to do what the U.S.
military has been unable to accomplish these last years. That largely
Shiite (and Kurdish force) is already a motor <http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=145524>for
further violence. Adding vast numbers of (still largely untrained,
surely resented, and undoubtedly resentful) advisors to it will only
ensure that the "Iraqi Army" remains functionally a thoroughly
recalcitrant American one into the distant future. This is the
functional definition of a failed strategy from the get-go, but given
the geostrategic la-la land that George Bush and Dick Cheney inhabit,
it now passes for "realism" in our national capital.
For a touch of actual realism, it seemed reasonable to turn to those
who have been living out the results of Washington's mad plans these
last years -- actual Iraqis. Independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who
has written regularly <http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=2166>for Tomdispatch on our occupation of Iraq and, from 2003 to 2005, covered
it in person, offers us at least a glimpse of the nightmare world that
George Bush's "cakewalk" into Iraq inflicted on those in its path. Here
are some of the people "stuff" <http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/04/11/sprj.irq.pentagon/>
happened to. Tom
*"Today Is Better than
Tomorrow"* *Iraq as a Living Hell* By Dahr Jamail
The situation in Iraq has reached such a point of degradation
and danger that I've been unable to return to report -- as I did from
2003 to 2005 -- from the front lines of daily life. Instead, in these
last months, I have found myself in a supportive role, facilitating the
work of some of my former sources, who remain in their own war-torn
land, to tell their hair-raising tales of the new Iraq. While relying
on my Iraqi colleagues to report the news, which we then publish at
Inter Press Service <http://ipsnews.net/>
and my website <http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/>, I continue to
receive emails from others in Iraq, civilian and soldier alike.
What I know from these emails is that the articles on Iraq you normally
read in your local newspaper, even when, for instance, they cover the
disintegration of the Iraqi health system or the collapse of the
economy, are providing you, at best, but a glimpse of what daily life
there is now like. After all, who knows better what's happening than
those who are living it?
from Edward Herman :
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006
Subject: Gabriel Ash on Hollowcaust Hullabaloo
This piece by Ash is right on target.
It's been a good week for the Holocaust. It was
in the news all the time. Unfortunately, the media excels in not making
connections, which leaves me with the joyful job of bringing together
all the recent Holocaust news.
by Gabriel Ash
In Iran, the clowns at the Foreign Ministry hosted a conference of
Holocaust buffoonery graced with the presence of such luminaries as the
white supremacist David Duke. In France, Presidential hopeful Segolene
Royal stumbled over the question whether she heard the comparison that
a Hizbullah deputy made (or didn't make, in Arabic or not, that was or
wasn't translated to Royal) between Hizbullah and the French resistance
to the Nazis. Royal assured us that any such comparison, which implies
some measure of likeness between Nazi Germany and Israel, would be, had
it been made, completely "inadmissible, odious, an abomination" (Loubnan
Ya Loubnan, December 2006). Finally, before leaving for a visit
to Germany, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert gave a speech at the National
Holocaust Museum in which he compared Iran to the Nazis and urged
Germany to cut its economic ties to Iran.
Let us begin with the third event. This is how Olmert put his case to
the Germans: "May I suggest to the German people. . . . You may have an
economic interest, you may have a business interest, but you have a
deeper and more fundamental moral obligation to yourself, to your
history and to your future." (Israel
National News, December 11, 2006) In other words, because of
the Holocaust, Germany must support Israel's assault on Iran.
Five centuries ago, a German monk rose against the Catholic pope,
accusing him of mixing matters of conscience with lucre by selling
divine pardons to wealthy sinners. Martin Luther was adamant that sin
and redemption were matters of the direct relation between the
individual and God. Anyone who pretended to mediate this relation, to
obtain redemption on someone else's behalf (and to be paid for it) was
a charlatan (Luther actually said "antichrist," but that is the name of
the supreme charlatan). The least one can say about post WWII Germany
is that it betrayed Luther. Repentant of their recent Nazi past,
Germans agreed to pay billions of dollars to Israel. Israel is a state
that didn't exist during the Nazi holocaust. The Nazis murdered Jews,
homosexuals, Roma, socialists. That had nothing to do with the state of
Israel, some of whose founders expressed admiration for Nazi ideology
and even wanted to fight on Hitler's side in the War (Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents:
Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis). Israel was not a victim
of Nazism. It was, if anything, an indirect beneficiary. Yet Israel
offered Germans redemption: pay us, and we will lift the burden of sin
from your shoulders. Pay us, and you will be rehabilitated. And Germans
were happy to pay. Having a conscience of one's own, living with one's
true past and seeking redemption in the desolation of the wrecked self
was just too much for many Germans (to be fair, that is easy to
understand. The burden of Nazism wasn't light.) They were happy to pay
and they watched silently, uncritically, as Israel took their blood
money and used it to build exactly the kind of militarized garrison
state that had led them to perdition. It is ironic that the Germans,
having accused themselves of being too obedient, too eager to let the
Nazi state define morality, would try to cure themselves by giving yet
another state, Israel, the right to define morality on their behalf.
Yet they did. Thus German politicians and intellectuals outsourced
their conscience to Israel and the U.S. Fifty years later they are
still unable to criticize the actions of either. Instead of a real
conscience, they adopted a sanctimonious servility to all things
Israeli. Into this context stepped Ehud Olmert, the new Holocaust Pope,
demanding from Germans obedience in exchange for a renewal of the
epochal pardon, reminding them, like the sleek indulgence hawker that
he is, of their "obligation to themselves."
Olmert, however, the man received "warmly" by Chancellor Merkel, is a
war criminal. Only recently he ordered the slaughter of hundreds of
people. According to his own words the slaughter was not a by-product
of military action (which would be bad enough) but a deliberate attempt
to exert pressure on Lebanese politicians (Gabriel Ash, Dissident
Voice, July 2006). Olmert is thus a criminal even by the lax
standards of ius in bellum. To be clear, there is absolutely no
comparison between what Olmert did in Lebanon and Gaza and what the
Nazis did in Auschwitz. There is, however, a pertinent similarity
between what Olmert did in Lebanon and Gaza and what the Nazis did in
places such as Lidice. If contemporary Germans had any obligation to
themselves and to their history, that obligation would be to arrest him
and put him on trial the moment he landed in Germany. They certainly
did not have an obligation to listen to a blood stained butcher
pontificate about morality. Nobody does.
Let us turn now to the Affaire Sego. According to masterful
digging of the French Lebanese blogger of Loubnan Ya Loubnan,
Segolene Royal was trapped by a little comedy put together either by
the members of the Lebanese "Cedar revolution" parties or by insiders
of Jacque Chirac's government or by both. The two groups have a stake
in preserving the current French Lebanon policy and its alignment with
Washington and Tel-Aviv. The interesting thing to ponder, however, is
the lasting usefulness of the Holocaust as a leash against stray
European politicians. Royal, smarting up from the bruises, canceled her
meeting with Hamas representatives, essentially giving up on her
erstwhile commitment to listen to all parties in the Middle East. She
issued the expected declaration that any comparison between the Nazis
and Israel would have prompted her to leave the room. That effectively
means she cannot be in the same room with 90% of people who actually
live in the Middle East. The Holocaust, one concludes, is the most
effective weapon in the hands of those bent on manufacturing a "clash
of civilizations." If the memorization of Nazism in the West can
prevent a French politician from meeting with the democratically
elected representative of Palestinians, the Holocaust has become a tool
in the arsenal of segregation in the service of global apartheid.
I am not sure which is more offensive, a Saudi doctor insisting that he
wouldn't be in the same room with women (Arab
News, November 22, 2006), or a French politician insisting she
won't stay in a room with a Lebanese who sees himself fighting in the
tradition of the French resistance against the Nazis. The comparison is
salient because the Holocaust has taken in Europe (and differently, in
Israel) the semblance of religious dogma. "Denying the Holocaust" is
the only speech-act that is legally proscribed as blasphemy and can
land one in jail. And European politicians apparently cannot be in the
same room with "infidels," i.e. people who challenge the belief that
there is only one great Holocaust, with Israel its prophet.
And just like the breathtaking hypocrisy of Saudi fundamentalists, who
raise hell over a stupid Danish cartoon but co-operate with the U.S.
and Israel behind the scenes against Palestinian resistance, the
"Holocaust fundamentalists" of Europe talk through both sides of their
mouth. No sooner had Segolene Royal asserted she would not listen to
the slightest implication of a similarity between Israel and Nazism,
Israel's PM used the podium of the Holocaust Museum to compare Iran to
Nazi Germany. Will Royal say she would have left the room if she had
heard Olmert make that historical comparison? Israelis and Americans
run a cottage industry of comparisons between Nazism and the evil man
de jour. Begin compared Yasser Arafat to Hitler. Clinton compared
Milosevic to Hitler. Sundry columnists compared Islamic fundamentalism
to Nazism. Bush compared Saddam to Hitler. And now Iran is
Israel's latest Nazi incarnation. When was the last time a European
Holocaust fundamentalist left the room in reaction to these truly
Let me spell out the hypocrisy of the Holocaust hawkers. The West has
elevated the crimes of the Nazis into a benchmark of evil.
Paradoxically, every subsequent crime, especially when the perpetrator
is Israel, can now be excused on the ground that it falls short of the
death camps. Conversely, the genocidal tendencies inherent in the
systematic obliteration of the basis of civilian life can be ignored by
invoking the ritual condemnation of the "false analogy" with Nazism,
even as such systematic destruction has been incorporated in the
military practice of the West and is operative wherever modern armies
must contend with popular resistance. Therefore one could never compare
the death of over a million Iraqis as the result of deliberate American
policy since 1992 to the holocaust, nor can one compare the decade long
collective punishment of the people of Gaza or the destruction of South
Lebanon to the pacification methods of the Nazis. Nobody would call
Bush a "holocaust denier" for flatly denying the value of a scientific
study that estimates the number of his victims to be in the hundreds of
thousands. However, the opposite happens when the interests of the West
are so disposed. The "lesson" of the holocaust is good enough to
justify the NATO bombing of civilian targets in Yugoslavia, the
genocidal U.S. occupation of Iraq, Israel's massive bombing of Beirut,
a future nuclear war against Iran, etc. The pettiest tyrant who "kills
his own people" (and who doesn't?) is suddenly as terrible as Hitler.
The slaughter of European Jews has thus been transformed into a
Hollowcaust, a benchmark of evil that is utterly indeterminate, empty
at its core, at once trivially applicable to everything and sublimely
applicable to nothing. The Hollowcaust acts like a quirky and
capricious divinity, rejecting a comparison here, accepting an equally
valid or invalid one there. It is a partisan divinity, a god that
always blesses 'us' and curses 'them,' even as it simultaneously
demands to be worshipped by all humanity and in the name of all
humanity. The Hollowcaust thus entices victims to a futile competition
in which they must worship it with a steady sacrificial offering of
facts, reports, statistics, that would justify their demand to be heard
by measuring what happened to them in relation to the fate of the Jews
of Europe. But the success of this appeal, like the success of Cain's
original 'holocaust,' depends on nothing except the freedom of the
divine will -- in this case the mood in Western capitals. History and
facts are more or less irrelevant. Like Skinner's pigeons,
the supplicants are driven to insanity by the complete disconnect
between causes and consequences. Like Cain, they are sometimes driven
to fratricide. It is quite understandable that under such circumstances
the temptation to deny or belittle the crimes of the Nazis is almost
irresistible. The denial of the holocaust is rooted in the desire to
pin down the Hollowcaust.
This brings us back to the pathetic holocaust conference that took
place in Iran. The most charitable thing that can be said about the
organizers of this conference is that they are fools. Allegedly in
solidarity with the victims of state terrorism, they come out in
defense of state terrorism. Challenging the veracity of the holocaust,
Iran's President's pet cause, is not a repudiation of Zionism, but as
Joseph Massad convincingly argued (Al-Ahram,
2004), a useful justification for Zionism. Moreover, to whitewash
Nazism is to defend state terrorism, and that includes Israel. There
are anti-imperialists who reject state terror categorically. It is
perhaps not surprising however that the government of Iran, itself not
averse to torture and murder, would find such high principles too
The pettiness of Iran's President are, as expected, manna from heaven
to Zion's willing apologists. The Western media took the occasion to
fill many pages with condemnations, exhortations, and scare mongering
of epic proportions. To take one illuminating example, Anne Appelbaum warns her readers that all the work done to institutionalize the memory of the holocaust
is not enough. "The near-destruction of the European Jews in a very
brief span of time by a sophisticated European nation using the best
technology available was, it seems, an event that requires constant
re-explanation . . ."
The message of Hollowcaust hawkers such as Appelbaum is only amplified
by such idiocies as the Iranian conference. O Jews! They are singing in
unison, give some more money to the likes of the Simon Wiesenthal
center, so they can blabber a little more about the Hollowcaust while
they present Rupert Murdoch with a human rights award! (The
Forward, February 3, 2003)
But pay close attention to what exactly Appelbaum seeks to "explain."
For in her words one can see clearly the trace of the Hollowcaust's
Faustian bargain, the bargain that gave Jews official recognition for
their suffering in return for accepting to become the standard bearers
of Western Whiteness. It isn't the horror suffered by the victims as
such, it isn't murder, it isn't terror, it isn't even genocide that
Applebaum singles out as the uniqueness of the holocaust. What needs to
be explained, according to her, what needs to be constantly
re-imagined, is the horror of "a sophisticated European nation using
the best technology available" to commit genocide. But it should
takes no effort it figure out that this is the last thing that requires
an explanation. A sophisticated European nation using advanced
technology to kill those it considers not fully human!? Where is the
question? Isn't that a valid synopsis of a full dozen chapters of
modern history? Did anyone expect white supremacy to be enforced with
sticks and stones? Of course states use the best technology they have
when they perpetrated murder against whole populations. Does Appelbaum
not know how many billions of dollars are spent every year perfecting
the tools of mass murder and inventing new ones? What makes gas
chambers so sophisticatedly shocking or shockingly sophisticated among
nuclear bombs, mustard gas, napalm, cluster bombs, Agent Orange,
machine guns, Caterpillar D-9s, long range bombers and any of the
thousand small and large inventions designed by perfectly legitimate
enterprises to hasten the passage of the offending population to its
Sophistication and technology are not what sets the Nazi genocide
apart. It is the one thing it has most in common with dozens of other
campaigns by Western states against non-white population groups. It is
remarkable that Appelbaum wants to erect as primal difference the very
element that is least unique to the holocaust, the one element that is
most likely to be seized upon by victims of Western imperialism and
colonialism as the common ground of their victimization. The stakes
cannot be clearer. "Remembering" the holocaust is primarily about
excluding other victims. It is about rendering murder incomprehensible
when committed on a massive scale by "a sophisticated nation with
advanced technologies." The act of explaining is not concerned with
adding insight. In the manner of negative theology, one "explains" the
holocaust by preserving its incomprehensibility, so that it constantly
remains in need of re-explanation.
Erecting the Hollowcaust as a unique case of "a sophisticated nation
with advanced technology" committing genocide is not about affirming
the past. It is about denying the present. It is about denying the
millions of deaths that are perpetrated year in year out by
"sophisticated nations with advanced technologies." It is also about
erecting a totemic barrier between "sophisticated nations with advanced
technologies" and the rest of humanity. On the one side are those
nations whose acts of mass murder are made to be incomprehensible, and
therefore effectively denied -- it does not happen anymore because it
would be unthinkable to think that it happens. A genocide committed by
a sophisticated nation happened only once. And to suggest that it
happened more than once is to betray the memory of the victims. It is
blasphemy. The very commemoration and deification of that unique,
one-off, historical aberration confirms that it was an unexplainable
departure from the "civilized" norms that are defined by it. In
Freudian terms, the Hollowcaust is the foundation of modern Western
supremacy in the same way that incest is the foundation of the family.
On the other side (of the wall, if you wish) are the "unsophisticated,"
technologically backwards nations. By implication, mass murder in those
nations is low-tech, but also unremarkable, easily comprehensible,
explained quite "naturally" by their very lack of sophistication. They
are the barbarians and they just tend to kill each others. It follows
that to kill them is to commit no great crime, since violent death is
their very modus vivendi. 'They' do not respect life as 'we'
do; they raise their kids to be suicide bombers, and so forth. In a
perfectly circular manner, their irreverent rejection of the
Hollowcaust faith (which is built to exclude them) confirms their
exclusion from the community of the civilized and abandons them to be
killed without repercussions.
The Hollowcaust is thus
the ideology par excellence of Global Apartheid (of which the Israeli
wall is but a small section). Abdullah Derkaoui's brilliant cartoon
above captures the way the Hollowcaust functions according to the
classic definition of ideology, mediating between the viewer and the
reality of Apartheid and thus constructing the subject of segregation.
And now these pious Hollowcaust hawkers are surprised and shocked that
so many barbarians piss on their memorials? Note: they are only getting
back the message of their own racism with a "return to sender" scrawled
over the envelope.
Gabriel Ash is an activist and writer who writes because
the pen is sometimes mightier than the sword and sometimes not. He
welcomes comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org.